Monday, September 1, 2008
I Survived the 3-day Novel Contest
I return to this blog after running a marathon...a writing marathon, that is. I signed up for the 3-day Novel Contest and chained myself to my desk over Labor Day weekend. I laughed, I cried, I screamed, and I drank a lot of coffee. I conclude the experience 12,809 words richer. I do not have a novel to show for it, not yet anyway...I worked for a while on my main story, and when I hit a wall I worked on a few other short stories. It seems that many participants came away with more words or pages than I, but the point is not to compare...the point is the journey, and I have done it.
I felt at times a bit like I did when I ran the 8-mile race in this picture: completely unprepared. I did not train for the race. I think I finished 10th from last. But I beat my goal in terms of time, and I finished. The same was true this time...I did not practice writing fiction. I have never in my life completed a work of fiction (correct me if I'm wrong, Mom. I may have done something of the sort in middle school). So it was a little crazy to expect myself to draft a novel with no preparation and hardly any planning. Still, I managed to write for a total of 18.5 hours (about 6 hours per day).
Where's the fun in life if you never do anything crazy? Now I hope to go back and actually do some studying of fiction while I work with the new material I generated this weekend. Pat Schneider, in her book Writing Alone and with Others, relates a fairy tale in which the hero finds a wealth of copper but must give it up in order to earn silver, and then must give up the silver in order to earn all he can carry in gold. She says that is a metaphor for writing, that if we keep going, if we are willing to shed things along the way, we will find treasure. I found some treasure, and it surprised me. That's the whole point, right?